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This article, titled ³Learning about the IPv6 header, Part 1: Basic differences between IPv4 header and

IPv6 header´, will explain the IPv6 header from the basics. In the next article, we will look at advanced features of IPv6 and try to understand them through our knowledge of the IPv6 header. IPv6 is an improved version of the current Internet Protocol, IPv4. However, it is still an Internet Protocol. A protocol is a set of procedures for communications. In Internet Protocol, information such as IP addresses of the sender and the receiver of the data packet is placed in front of the data. This information is called ³header´. This is similar to specifying the addresses of the sender and the recipient when you send a package by mail. Let¶s first compare the header of IPv4 and IPv6. Figure 1 shows IPv4 header, and IPv6 header is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 1 IPv4 Header

This is because header format has been simplified in IPv6. If you just think in terms of pure combination of numbers. Header Checksum must be recalculated every time the packet goes through a router. as a flow. This refers to the fact that. throughput. Due to this difference in length. A Header Checksum is a number used to check for errors in header information. delay. Options field can be used to add information about various optional services. if you compare Figures 1 and 2 again. Service Type field is composed of TOS (Type of Service) field and Precedence field. IP header length is fixed to 40 bytes. you will realize that although IPv6 uses four times more digits to express the addresses of the source and the destination. for example whether it should be delivered express or with normal speed. On the other hand. among many elements shown in Figure 1 and 2. you can say that IPv6 can be accelerated much easier than IPv4. However. and is a field newly established for IPv6. which changes every time the packet goes through a router. some communication devices are equipped with the ability to recognize traffic flow and assign particular priority to each flow. those shown in red do not exist in Figure 2. In terms of making it easier to process packets with hardware. This field is used to represent the priority of the packet.Figure 2 IPv6 Header One feature of IPv6 that immediately comes to our mind is huge address space. for plain packets. Precedence field specifies the level of priority using eight levels from 0 to 7. length of the header has not increased much from that of IPv4. One of the important changes is that there is no Options field in Figure 2. there used to be 232 possible ways to represent addresses. In IPv4. information related to encryption can be added here. Because of this. but now there are 2128 possible ways to represent them. IPv6 moves information related to additional services to a section called extension header. TCP layer that resides above IP layer checks errors of various information including sender address and destination address. Therefore. Flow Label field has a 20 bits length. If we can free up routers from this type of calculations. Another field that exists in Figure 1 but is absent from Figure 2 is the Header Checksum field. However. Because of this. TOS field specifies the type of service and contains cost. these devices not only need to check the IP layer information such as address of the . Actually. Since performing same calculations at the IP layer is redundant and unnecessary. Figure 1 contains 8bit field called ³Service Type´. or security. and request particular service for this flow. the length of the IPv4 header changes accordin to g the situations. routers that control communications according to the information in the IP header can¶t judge the length of the header just by looking at the beginning of the packet. By using this field. You can see that among many elements (called ³field´) shown in Figure 1. Even in the world of IPv4. we could reduce the delay. packet¶s sender or intermediate devices can specify a series of packets. such as Voice over IP. However. For example. Header Checksum is removed from IPv6. the Source Address and the Destination Address has each been expanded from 32 bits to 128 bits. and allows communication devices to handle the packet accordingly. reliability. This makes it difficult to speed up packet processing with hardware assist. problem with this approach is that header contains a number called TTL (Time To Live). IPv6 provides the same function with a field called Traffic Class. and is calculated using the numbers in the header. The part shown in Figure 2 is called basic header.

Flow Label field attempts to put together all these necessary information and provide them at the IP layer. However.pdf 2 Internet architecture idea Packet-switched datagram network IP is the glue (network layer overlay) IP hourglass architecture All hosts and routers run IP Stateless architecture No per flow state inside network IP TCP UDP ATM Satellite Ethernet IP hourglass . IPv6 aims to provide intelligent transmission framework that is easy to handle for intermediate devices by keeping the basic header simple and fixed length. but also need to check the port number which is an information that belongs to a higher layer. As we have seen in this article. http://www.sender and the destination. specifics on how to use it is still undecided.futureinternet.eu/fileadmin/documents/consultation_meeting_31_Jan_08/feldmann_eu_31jan08.